speaker, coach, consultant

Making the most of what we have

"I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.  These three are your greatest treasures." -- Lau Tzu

Chances are you've never looked at what you own as a finite resource, but just imagine if you couldn't acquire any further material goods -- no more cars, clothes or toys.

How would you live your life?

For a start, you'd have to find more to life than shopping. Most likely, you'd reconnect with something close to nature for in her arms we come alive to the true beauty of this earth, and not, as is currently the case, treat her with abject disdain.

If you think this a bizarre view of the world, then perhaps you need to change your worldview because I can guarantee that even on these British shores you'll find people that don't have the means or the appetite to want to keep consuming. Again, I'm drawn to think of my grandparents. Not just because of a lack of mobility or financial independence, but I struggle to recall a single occasion where our conversation turned to what they wanted to buy or consume. It was, therefore, no surprise that when Christmas or a birthday came around they were genuinely delighted and happy with even the smallest gift, be that a pair of socks or a small amount of tobacco in the case of my grandad.

Let's face it we've made a mess of this world. In large part, if not exclusively, by our desire to acquire stuff. Of course, we can't row back the tide -- we've done irreversible damage to the planet -- but we sure as hell can curb our desires, stop buying for the sake of it and take a long hard look at what we own.

I accept that there will be occasion where we need to replace something we own but wouldn't it be nice to know that it didn't come from the earth's natural resources but had been fully recycled from other materials, and, in addition, we could expect it to last a lot longer than what we're used to. (I'm amazed as consumers that we so easily succumb to both of these aspects, particularly the inbuilt obsolescence of most goods. Just imagine if a manufacturer were to guarantee its products for upwards of 10 years or more. Now there's a USP worth fighting for.)

I accept for the majority of people they've no intention of living without consumption -- nowadays, it feels as if it's hard-wired for the majority -- but at some stage we all have to recognise that our obsession for ownership of all manner of rubbish is killing us, and leaving a poisoned planet for our children and theirs to clean up. I know that most people don't even think about next week and how they intend to ethically live their life, let alone the next decade, but I for one refuse to be seduced into believing that we shouldn't (and must) take responsibility for our buying habits. And I don't mean recycling. I mean to STOP BUYING UNNECESSARY GOODS.

Go on, I dare you. See if you can avoid buying any new clothes, gadgets or material possessions for the next month, and see how you feel. It may not make any difference to the shape of the planet, yet, but just imagine if we could multiply that across every country in the world. (Frankly, I couldn't care less about GDP and the like. In fact the sooner we wean ourselves off of growth the better, particularly when all it's doing is accelerating the destruction of the planet.)
Great post Bro. I remember the socks, the tobacco and the small gifts that made them smile so much. I too feel that it is time to stop buying and consuming. If everyone of us did it for just one day, what impact that would have.